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British society divided on social values but majority back tax hikes to pay for cost of living help | Politics News

British society is divided on many social issues but the majority reject the government’s policy of tax cuts, according to a survey.

Britons disagree on issues from Scottish independence to proportional representation in elections but most agree that higher taxes should fund extra help for households through the cost of living crisis.

The National Centre of Social Research (NatCen) interviewed 6,250 people in Britain between September and October last year for its 39th annual British Social Attitudes report.

It showed 52% were behind raising taxes and spending more on health, education and social benefits.

As many as 46% of Conservative voters and 61% of Labour supported tax hikes.

And the majority would back government intervention similar to that seen during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the economy, as concerns mount over social inequality.

The survey pointed to fears over inequality increasing since the pandemic – with almost half (49%) calling for money to be redistributed to those who are less wealthy, a figure up 10% since 2019.

There were relatively few differences in economic values between northern and southern England – despite the government’s levelling up agenda highlighting regional inequalities.

But the attitude of people outside London is in marked contrast with those living in the capital, who are more pro-welfare and socially liberal.

Some 37% of people in the north expressed pro-welfare views compared to 35% in the south.

In London, this figure rose to 47% – against 30-37% elsewhere.

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The Truss plan: Economy, energy and NHS

Constitutional challenges

Participants were also quizzed about their views on Scottish independence – with the results showing Britain is more polarised than ever.

Some 52% of Scots are in favour of leaving the UK, up from 23% in 2012.

But the figure remains unchanged in England since 2012, with only one in four backing Scottish independence.

For the first time in the survey’s history, more people (51%) favour bringing in proportional representation for elections rather than the traditional first past the post system.

Support in Northern Ireland to stay part of the UK has slipped to below half (49%) for the first time, the research showed.

Culture wars including the issues of identity, immigration and equality could re-ignite the Brexit divide which saw Remain and Leave voters holding radically opposing views – but the balance of public opinion is mostly tipped towards socially liberal beliefs, according to the survey.

Under-pressure health service

Meanwhile satisfaction with the NHS plunged to its lowest level in 25 years, with long waiting lists described as a major barrier to receiving care.

Two thirds of people blamed long delays to get a GP or hospital appointment for being dissatisfied with the beleaguered health service.

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Record ambulance wait times in July

But more than half of people in England and Scotland said they would pay higher taxes to improve the level of healthcare for everyone.

Three quarters surveyed said the NHS should “definitely” be free of charge and available to everyone.

NatCen senior research fellow, Sir John Curtice, said: “The findings of our survey certainly suggest why Britain might appear divided, buffeted, and ‘broken’.

“The health service is widely thought not to be providing the timely service that people need and expect. Support for leaving the UK has grown in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and how Britain should be governed has become much more of a divisive issue.

“A new gap on attitudes to welfare and social issues has opened between the capital and the rest of the country. And divisions over ‘culture war’ issues could potentially become part of our politics, thereby helping to perpetuate the Brexit divide.

“True, the gap in attitudes between the North and the South of England appears to have narrowed, while people still have faith in having a tax-funded NHS that is free at the point of use.

“But the new government faces a particularly formidable challenge in bringing Britain together.”

Jeremy Vine ‘disgusted’ with ‘lack of values’ of social media companies over stalker videos | UK News

TV and radio host Jeremy Vine has said he is “amazed at how hard it is” to get social media companies to act in response to his jailed stalker’s videos.

Former BBC local radio presenter Alex Belfield, 42, was sentenced to five years and 26 weeks last Friday after being found guilty of waging a campaign against a number of figures from the broadcasting world.

Jurors accepted he caused serious alarm or distress to two victims and found him guilty of “simple” stalking in relation to Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter Mr Vine and theatre blogger Philip Dehany.

Ex-BBC presenter Alex Belfield arrives at Nottingham Crown Court
Alex Belfield

Asked about the response of the social media companies, Mr Vine told BBC Two’s Newsnight: “I am amazed at how hard it is to get them to realise.

“So we went to YouTube and said: ‘Come on, what is going on with this guy? You can’t allow him to just defame’.

“And then we said: ‘OK, there is a libel action now based on that video, that video, that video’ – they still won’t take them down.

“Eventually I have to go through a lawyer, they take down individual videos, and then when he is convicted they demonetise him. But half the videos about me are still up there.

“His technique was to say ‘copy and share’ so you will have someone who takes his video in Moscow and hosts it. It will always be out there, I have got to live with that.

“But the fact that YouTube hosts this stuff, they have no responsibility. They don’t care. They don’t give a toss. Sorry for my language but I am disgusted by their lack of values.

“And Twitter as well. He is in prison and he has still got a Twitter account. What the hell is that about? I don’t understand it.”

Mr Vine said that Belfield had put out a video “saying he is going to be right back up and running”.

Mr Vine also said both the victims and their friends had flagged Belfield’s content in a way that was both “continuous” and “constant” and one person even went to YouTube’s headquarters to ask its reception if anything could be done.

“It’s not a mystery to them which are the problem accounts and they just need to take them down,” he said.

Twitter declined to comment, and YouTube has also been contacted for comment.